Animal Shelter

Shelter Manager Valerie Robinson


Community Cats

What is a Community Cat?

A community cat is an unowned cat that lives outdoors. Community cats with a tipped ear, as shown in the picture, have been spayed/neutered and given immunizations, including FVRCP and rabies. They may be friendly or, in some cases, not socialized with/by people. Don't worry; community cats are already used to living outside and are happier this way.


What is Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR)?

Community cats can provide a free and natural form of pest control for neighborhoods. A high-intake animal shelter, such as TPAS, simply does not have the capacity to find adopters for the thousands of cats who are found living outdoors. Many cats who live outside also have not been socialized to live indoors with humans and are better suited to life outdoors.

If you find a community cat without a tipped ear, the best thing to do is Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). TNR is the process of humanely trapping and transporting community cats for spay/neuter surgery, rabies vacation, and ear-tipping. After the procedures, the cat is returned to their outdoor home. All cats that are outdoors, even for just a short period of time, need to be spayed/neutered and vaccinated.

How Does it Work?

  • Evidence has proven that the previous approach of trapping and euthanizing community cats has not been an effective method for population control. The remaining cats will breed, continuing the population of cats to rise, or move in from other neighborhoods.
  • Community cat caregivers provide day-to-day care, while monitoring the colony so that newcomers can be quickly trapped and sterilized.
  • Many feral cats are unfriendly, so once they arrive at a shelter, there are few options for them. The Community Cat program provides these cats a chance to live out their natural lives in a healthy manner, while also reducing the overall population.

What are the Benefits of Spayed/Neutered Community Cats?

  • Spayed/neutered cats roam much less and become less of a nuisance.
  • Spay/neuter surgery controls the cat population by eliminating new litters.
  • It greatly reduces nuisance behaviors often associated with unfixed cats, such as mating-related yowling/fighting and the odor of unneutered male spray.
  • It reduces the number of kittens/cats in local shelters. In Terrebonne Parish, approximately 1% of cats that enter the shelter are reunited with owners.
  • Community cats hunt rats, mice, and other rodents/pests, making them a great first line of defense in pest control.
  • It's humane.

What Do I Do if I See a Cat in My Neighborhood?

It takes a Community! Shelters and animal welfare groups across the country are implementing community cat programs to great success with the help of their community. TPAS has joined that effort in humanely and effectively addressing the cat population in our community.

If you see a cat with an ear-tip, it has already been trapped, neutered, and returned. It doesn't need to be helped and should be left alone.

If you see a cat without an ear-tip, follow these steps:

  1. Trap the cat. Trapping is ONLY allowed from Sunday evening through Friday morning at 8:00 a.m. and NEVER over the weekend or on national holidays.
    We strongly recommend calling the shelter to schedule the surgery prior to trapping. Using a borrowed/purchased humane live trap, bait the trap, cover the trap to provide shelter and reduce stress, set it in a quiet dry area away from anthills, and monitor it closely by checking it in the morning, afternoon, and evening. All traps must be labeled with the finder/caregiver's name, phone number, and trapping address.

  2. Drop-off. Trapped cats can be brought to the shelter Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The finder/caretaker will be given a date and time for pickup (generally 2 days after drop-off). Qualifying cats must be returned to their original territory in a minimum of 24 hours after the surgery.

  3. Surgery. The cat will be spayed/neutered the next business day and will also receive rabies vaccinations, FVRCP vaccinations, and left ear-tips (the universal symbol of a sterilized and vaccinated outdoor cat). A veterinarian at TPAS will determine if the cat is too ill to participate in the program or if they need treatment before being eligible for safe return. Cats that are deemed too ill to participate are humanely euthanized.

  4. Pickup. The cat will recover overnight in their humane trap at TPAS. The finder/caregiver will pick up the cat the following morning.

  5. Return. The cat should be returned after being fed following pick-up. Do not attempt to handle the cat. Open the door and move away from the trap to allow the cat to leave on its own.

  6. Disinfect the trap. Disinfect the trap between each use. You will need a scrub brush, bleach, and water. Use a 1:1 ratio by adding 1 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water. In a well-ventilated area, while using gloves, scrub the trap and rinse thoroughly. Allow the trap to completely dry before use.

What if I Don't Want Cats in My Neighborhood?

Community cats already exist in our community. The Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is the only effective humane way to reduce the population. Our community tried the trap-and-eliminate method for decades without success, as this often creates a “vacuum effect,” encouraging more cats to come into a neighborhood or community. It also helps save lives, as one of the most vulnerable populations in the shelter are young kittens. When community cats are spayed/neutered, unwanted or unexpected litters will reduce around the region.

Tips for Living with Community Cats
There are also simple but effective ways to deter cats from your property.

  • Secure your trash can with a tight lid or bungee cord.
  • Put out fragrances that keep cats away.
  • Spread used coffee grounds around your property.
  • Make an outdoor litter box away from your garden.
  • Use plastic carpet runners or a Scat Cat Mat.
  • Use motion-activated sprinklers.

For more tips, check out Alley Cats Allies.

Additional Resources

For more information, please call (985) 873-6709.

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